Still Life, by Louise Penny (2005, 2015)

Still Life by Louise PennyMy good friend John has been recommending this series for two years. When I spotted Still Life, the first entry in the Inspector Gamache series, on the shelves at my local Grand Forks Public Library, I decided to give it a try. This is an anniversary edition, and included a foreword by the author and an informative profile of the author and this debut mystery by James Kidd as an afterword. There are now 12 titles in the series, I believe,and each has won several awards. Still Life introduces Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete de Quebec. He is a thoughtful, kind, and astute homicide investigator who mentors his team and has earned the high respect of underlings, colleagues and boss, though we learn he seems to be stuck career-wise. Readers also learn of Three Pines, the town where the series is set, though Gamache himself lives and works out of Montreal. When retired schoolteacher Jane Neal is found dead in the woods during hunting season, Gamache and his team are tasked to identify who killed her,and whether it was an accident or murder. Their investigation unveils dark undercurrents beneath the quiet, stately facade of this artistic community. Kidd’s afterword explains the final product is about half the original draft. Whatever it took, this is a terrific mystery, tightly plotted with engaging character, authentic dialogue and setting, and brilliant writing that rveals Penny is as astute an observer of human nature as her protagonist. I loved the sly humour and occasional Canadianisms (just the right amount). While I correctly identified the killer and motive early on, there were enough plot twists and entertaining puzzles to keep me enthralled from start to finish. Genre-wise, it falls somewhere between a cosy and a procedural, but that makes it easy to recommend to a wide audience. Highly recommended, in fact!
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2 thoughts on “Still Life, by Louise Penny (2005, 2015)

  1. Thanks for the extra vote in fa our of this series, Leslie. I seem to be the last one to the party with Inspector Gamache! I am looking forward to watching the character development; it is one of the reasons I so enjoy both the NameLess Detective series by Pronzini and the Sharon McCone series by Muller. Not all authors do this well so it’s worth noting when it is. Thanks for the comment.

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